cover image Marriage and Other Science Fiction

Marriage and Other Science Fiction

Albert Goldbarth. Ohio State University Press, $35 (119pp) ISBN 978-0-8142-0650-8

Goldbarth (Original Light) has written yet another quirky, compassionate book, drawing together his many enthusiasms-for the sciences, the arts and literature-into a new and expansive universe. The writer's focus shifts constantly. His diction moves from scientific to colloquial to raunchy with the ease of time-travel. Goldbarth's subject matter, human love, also ranges in character, from sublime to ridiculous to simply ordinary: in his world, everything from cheese to causation is somehow connected. Many of the best poems in the book are sequences of 14-line stanzas. Like 17th-century meditations, they find inner life writ large in the universe, and the universe writ small in our hearts. Such poems are like Donne's, bursting at the seams with new information; but they are more than intellectual exercises meant to show off the poet's wit. Instead, Goldbarth ventures intimate, caring explorations of life at the end of the 20th century, when it is harder than ever to be sure about anything. He's like a benign big brother who believes in an underlying order and goodness-and makes us believe in it, too. (Jan.)